Each and all IEML USL (Uniform Semantic Locators) are built from the words of the language.
Phrases are USLs constructed from words using sentence structure.

  • An IEML phrase is an organization of words according to the same grammatical roles as a classical sentence: verb, subject, object, complements, etc. IEML phrases are recursive: their roles can be filled by sub-phrases.
  • The roles in a (recursive) phrase are filled by words or phrases with inflections.
Art: Emma Kunz
General schema of a phrase

A phrase has nine roles: a root and eight distinct leaf roles. The leaf roles may be empty or may contain only role’s auxiliaries. One of the nine roles has a semantic accent represented by an exclamation mark. The phrase is recursive: the eight leaf roles may contain any phrase.

In terms of building a network of relationships:

  • Each of the eight roles can be compared to a main branch, the role’s auxiliaries to small branches that subdivide a main branch, and the categories (words, phrases) to leaves.
  • The meaning of a role can be clarified by a role’s auxiliary chosen from the paradigms of auxiliaries specialized in that role.
  • The same role can give way to as many semantic branches as there are distinct auxiliaries.
  • A role + auxiliary branching can lead to a leaf (a sub-phrase or word) or to a palm whose leaves are linked by a junction.
  • The root-leaf relations of the same phrase make a whole.
Details of the nine roles and their specialized auxiliaries
The Nine Roles of an IEML Phrase
  • The root is the governing role of a phrase. There are verbal, nominal, adjectival or adverbial phrases depending on the grammatical class of its root.
    Therefore, the root of a phrase can be:
    • a verb, representing a process, a state or an existence,
    • a noun, representing an actant, entity, substance or essence,
    • an adjective, representing the quality of an actant,
    • an adverb, representing the quality of a process,

The root must include a tool-word that specifies one of the four grammatical classes of E:O:.O:.

When the root is not a verb, the leaf roles are distributed by interpreting the nouns, adjectives or adverbs placed in the root as processes reified into actants or qualities.
The root has no role’s auxiliary.

  • The initiator is the subject of a process. It answers the question « who ? ». It can also define the starting point, the initial conditions, the first motor or the first cause of the concept evoked in a phrase.
    The initiator does not have any role’s auxiliary.
  • The inter-actant corresponds to the object in classical grammar. It answers the question « what ? ». It also plays the role of medium in the relationship between the initiator and the recipient.
    The inter-actant does not have any role’s auxiliary.
  • The recipient is the beneficiary (or victim) of a process. It answers the questions « for whom, to whom, and against whom ? ».
    The recipient does not have any role’s auxiliary.
  • The cause (broadly defined) answers the question « why ? ». It specifies the logical, material and formal determinations. It describes the actors that have not been specified by the initiator, the inter-actant or the recipient: media, instruments, effects, consequences. It may also specify methods, rules, laws, reasons, points of view, conditions and contracts.
    A root-cause relationship is specified by an auxiliary of the following paradigm.
  • Time answers the question « when ?  ». It indicates a moment in the past, present, or future that gives clues as to anteriority, posteriority, duration, date, frequency.
    A root-time relationship is specified by an auxiliary chosen among the following paradigms:
  • Place answers the question « where ?  ». It indicates location, spatial distribution, the pace of a movement, paths, roads, spatial relationships and metaphors.
    A root-place relationship is specified by an auxiliary chosen among the following paradigms:
  • Intention answers the question of purpose, goal, motivation: « for what ? », « to what end? ». It concerns mental orientation, direction of action, pragmatic context, emotion or feeling. It also specifies the practical relations between the root category and the categories in intention.
    A root-intention relationship is specified by an auxiliary chosen from the two following paradigms:
  • Manner answers the questions « how ?  » and « how much ? ». It situates the root on a range of qualities or on a scale of values. It specifies quantities, gradients, measurements and sizes. It also indicates properties, genres and styles.
    A root-manner relationship is specified by an auxiliary chosen from the following paradigms:
IEML Semantic Compass. The center and the eight directions correspond to the nine grammatical roles of a phjrase.
Example of a sentence

The nine roles of the sentence – in green in the example –  along with *auxiliaries,  ~inflections and & junctions allow for the expression of narratives and causal explanations.

Example of an IEML phrase
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